Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happiness ahead

Time is flying. My brother went home. We had a great time. My parents arrived.  We had Christmas #1 on dec 25 and #2 on the 29th.  I am overwhelmed by the generosity of my family and friends.

As we move towards 2013, I am hopeful for the future. We survived our first year together.  That was the goal and we made it.

I am thankful for:
- a family that has accepted everyone in it.  I know other people whose family would disown them if they adopted despite infertility probs.
- a healthy, happy, smart, energetic little girl
- a supportive, loving husband who has really blossomed into an amazing dad
- having the resources to care for our family: house, food, warmth/cooling, car, clothes, medical resources, etc.
- surviving this bad bout of health challenges.  I am not fixed yet, but it is coming.
- having amazing friends who are my second family around the world. I am so lucky to have these people in my life. The little random things you do are so special to me. You know who you are. I love you.
- a job which allows me to express my creativity and a supportive boss
- music, being able to sing, pop stars, the guitar, making up silly songs for sofie she will sing for the rest of her life, and Christmas music
- art
- fiction books, reading, writing
- Sunrises and sunsets and the stars and the moon and the sky and the oceans and trees and wind, Jamaica
- living in the US
- fruits and vegetables - I love them. They flavor our life.
- having the best cats in the world. I am biased for sure.

I know. Some of the items are corny. I was trying to hit the big stuff.

For the new year, we are going to get a jar and write something good that happened for every day of the year. Then, next new years eve, we will read them all and see what we had happen. I am excited to see what is going to be coming.  There will be little things and big things, and taking that moment every day to hug the universe will keep things in perspective.

Happy new year!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Little Miracles

We had a Christmas miracle on December 24 - Suddenly, Sofie was saying "Go"sounds - she has never been able to really narrow down the glottal activation, and suddenly she was doing it. We made a huge deal of her achievement (ok, and I cried. I couldn't help it. She has worked so hard for it), and everyone was so happy.  I loved it.  Also, the morning of Christmas eve she made her first "k" sound, but I missed it.  These are huge miracles.

The Grandmas scored big on her presents this year.  Her Dad's mom bought her the first makeup set complete with 3 lipsticks, 10 lip glosses, 4 blushes, 2 powders, 10 eye shadows, mirror, and a partridge in a pear tree. Ha ha ha.  My mom got her a stroller for her baby and that was a huge hit as well.  She is rolling that thing through the house (and it is loaded up with every toy she can fit in there) and tried to take it out on the town with her yesterday.  The one thing she asked for (Hello Kitty Guitar) that Santa brought has not been nearly as popular.  Though, we have played together.  I think it is too big for her, but we had to get it.  The tone is NOT as nice as my guitar and the strings are all over the place.  I wonder if I re-stringed it, if it would sound better?

We had some amazing food - rack of lamb with fancy sauce, oven roasted potatoes, brussel sprouts, and christmas cookies... Julia Child's beef bourgenoin with noodles and riscrem.  It doesn't sound fancy but both evenings were a heck of a lot of work.  Oh, and Christmas morning I made poached eggs with smoked salmon, asparagus, hollandaise on English muffins.  It is my alltime favorite breakfast, and it is so rich, I only allow myself to eat it once per year.  By the time I was finished serving Sofie, my brother, and my hubby, the poached eggs were perfect!

Tonight we have some foreign friends coming over, and we are making a Norwegian Christmas dinner with pinnekjott (salted lamb ribs), boiled potatoes, kohlrabi, brussels (for me) and riscrem.  Usually, it is a pretty white meal.  I need green.  I wonder if we could get some carrots in there somehow for more color.  All the Norwegians will say I am spoiling the dinner, but ... I need veggies.

All the presents we got for Christmas are keeping Sofers busy most of the time.  We still need to go outside and run around, but a front has come through and it is very chilly.   My lungs are still goofy and I shouldn't be outside for long periods of time.  Since the weather got icky, my lungs are a mess again.  All my test results should come back next week so we can see if they can figure out what is going on.

Anyway, I wish you a Happy New Year.  We are continuing to make progress, and I am so glad of where we are.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Twas the night before ...

I can't believe that it is finally here.  It is so neat having a tuned-in child that understands English and knows what is about to happen.  Last year, we were in the midst of our new life, and Sofie had no idea.  Looking back, I hadn't realized how challenging everything really was (of course, I knew it was hard, but when you don't have communication - holy mackerel). Everything is so much better this year.  People tend to leave out the part about how hard it is during the transition with an international adoption of a toddler.  I had only read about how it would be 2-3 months before you could communicate & how it was easy to survive.  Now I know the truth.  It is hard - way harder than you could imagine.  Not only is your child grieving about the life they used to have, they have no way to express it except to act out, scream, cry, etc.  Sure, there are good moments, but it is pretty traumatic for everyone.

Anyway, the holidays are upon us, and the house is ready.  Presents are wrapped and hidden away.  Most of the cookies are made except some of them are disappearing fast and I will have to whip up another batch tonight.  I probably need to make some candycane cookies too.

We have gone to ecstatic dance twice (with me swaying a bit to the music and Sofie running, jumping, spinning, and dancing like the crazy toddler she is).  She loved it.  We didn't last 2 hours for either session, but we got our groove on.  She wore a tutu skirt both times, and it flares up as she spins which is an excellent excuse to spin as much as possible. My upper body strength is very impressive too for a pas de deux of jumping/spinning/tossing up/ etc.  

My brother is in town, and we went for noodles the other day.  Yummy.  Last night, we hit the lights at the zoo and went out for genuine tex mex at our favorite place down the street.  We are local legends (hahaha) and once our favorite waiter saw we were waiting, he got a table cleared for us 20 minutes faster than everyone else had to wait. It was awesome.  Tonight, the hubby is making rack of lamb. I think potatoes au gratin sounds really good too. And maybe brussel sprouts? I need to propose it to him when I am done blogging.  Oh, and tomorrow, I am looking forward to poached eggs on smoked salmon, English muffins, and hollandaise sauce for  breakfast.  I am not sure how that is going to play out with present opening, but I am sure everything will work out fine, right?  

Our speech therapist is here this morning working with Sofers, and they are outside playing.  A nice thing about living down South is that it is 70-something outside and sunny.  I have had my coffee.  All is good with the world.

I was trying to think of something exciting to post about.  I finally saw the pulmonary specialist, and he put me on 5 new medications.  The first couple days were shaky as I was transitioning, but I am breathing better.  I am going for a lung scan on Wednesday to make sure I don't have some sort of degenerative lung scarring disease that masks itself as asthma/pneumonia.  Everyone at the doctor's office was 70+ and really sick, and I hope that won't be me.  

Anyway, I hope you have a Merry Christmas (or happy holidays) wherever you are.   May next year bring forth good times, happiness, and joy.  

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Super Saturday

I have been feeling so guilty about being sick every weekend since October 14. Actually, my husband has been sick too.  He had food poisoning, a cold, a cold, and then his back went out. I had a cold, bronchitis, pneumonia and the pneumonia never went away. This week was slightly better and I was released to go back to work part time - and I am meeting with a pulmonary specialist on Tuesday to figure out why it won't go away.  In the time we have been sick, we have increased our reliance on the tv to entertain Sofie.  I feel terrible about it, but we didn't really have much of a choice.  We are too acquainted with mickey minus clubhouse, Sofia the first, and cinderella.  Oh, and toy story, and toy story 2. And various christmas shows for toddlers.

So this morning when I woke up, I was determined to make today more of a fun day then we have had in awhile.  My good friend had a baby 3 weeks ago, and Sofie is obsessed with babies at the moment - him especially.  We went over to visit the newborn and mommy.  Sofie helped me hold the baby, petted him, cooed to him, made him smile, sang Christmas songs to everyone, and was her super charged, sweet self.  

We also joined an organic food coop a few weeks ago and she helped me pick up our share.  They were playing fun music and she danced around while I picked out produce, checked out, and carried to the Car.

Then, we decided to drive to china town because we were already halfway there and get noodles. There is a place we go that has food very much Iike the food where she grew up. It has been a few months since we visited since we have been so ill.  I got her favorite steamed and sautéed egg/mushroom/chinese onion bun and pork noodles with super fatty fried pork chop. I had bean curd noodles. It was all super yummy and she was doing her happy tummy food dance (it has been awhile) for an hour and a half while she ate with her chop sticks (I figured out a trick with 2 rubber bands and a chop stick wrapper to make them useful for her). She even gave me extra hugs and kisses she was so happy.

Then, we drove home jamming to "ghangam style" together.   We were both dancing and she was so happy. I love it when she beams like the sun.  What a magical day!

Later, the hubby took her out to a winter festival while I napped to recover.

All in all, I am really happy I put forth the effort, and it was worth it even though I am having a bit of lung pain now.  What a fun day!

Tomorrow, I am going to try ecstatic dance with her, even though I can't dance very much. I hope with lots of people dancing around us, she will get some of her energy out.  Crossing fingers. Hope I can dance a little bit.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Pregnancy and Adoption

Pregnancy and Adoption

Life isn't fair. We don't always get what we want. Some people get what they want without trying, and it can be hard.  Some people get things that they don't want/need and they throw them away. It can feel terrible knowing how little someone else respects what I value. There is no explaining or justifying why things happen the way they do. We won't ever get those answers, and as we move through our lives, I believe it is important to see the big picture and be where we are.

When I started my journey to having a child, I was very hopeful I would get pregnant.  It didn't happen. People around me continued to get pregnant, and although I was sometimes envious as hell, I was also so happy for the people who were getting their child because I new the child was a miracle. The child symbolized hope and brought forth a new little person to love and to cherish.  

Some people around us didn't get pregnant as they went in their personal journeys.  They had IVF and it did not work. Numerous times. It was heart breaking.  Marriages were shaky;some broke up & they decided it wasn't meant to be since they couldn't have kids together. Other friends got pregnant and then miscarried.  Even worse. I saw this and was scared. Some had IVF and it worked. Others did surrogate with success.

I realized i had a fertility problem in 2002.  After getting over my heart break at the likelihood of natural conception, it took another 7 years to get to the point where my husband agreed we could adopt.  It took a 6 months to find an agency and another year to do the paperwork and get the approvals. A year after that, we realized it was going to take 5-8 years to get a child from China (times had changed).  We considered special needs and were matched with a little boy.  He fell through because he was too sick to travel. It broke my heart.
After this, people in my life volunteered to do surrogate for us, because I was the problem in the reproduction arena.  They took back the offer after a few months when things got serious.  It destroyed me. Looking back, there is a black hole in my memory.

A few months aterwards, I had an intervention with a stranger in a courtyard at a church I had just started attending.  We both went to an early service that had been cancelled without notice. I hadn't really talked to anyone about it, and she helped me.  it was a chance meeting.

After that, I started to feel hope again that my child was out there.  We started working with a different adoption agency & started the paper chase again.  
Once we had finally got all our ducks in a row with the new agency, the original agency came through with Sofie.

Meanwhile, many friends & colleagues in my life got pregnant.  They are still getting pregnant - many of them having first children. Some had infertility issues.  Some got pregnant right away.  There is no rhyme or reason to it all,

Yes, sometimes I railed at the injustice of it all, but I am joyful that other people didn't have to suffer like I did. I am relieved that for many others, everything came together. I can see the beauty of pregnancy, and I am still amazed by the human body and how life propagates.  New people are created every day, and I marvel at how it all comes together.

It isn't fair that I won't get a child that is a mix of our DNA. I did get a child who has an amazing personality and loves me to death.  However, at the end of the day, it is my journey. Who knows? I might get pregnant yet someday without even trying.  I have stopped trying to explain why things happen and accept that this is what it is.

I love my friends and I truly feel joy for their joy with pregnancy.  I don't want to take away from their happiness.  Just because I haven't been pregnant, doesn't mean I can't be supportive and loving as always.

Not every option works for everyone. It's ok. We are in it together.  That's how I feel.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Some days

Today has been a mixed bag:
- Sofie helped blanch almonds (?!) for pepper spice cookies
- Sofie helped me out at the organic coop and helped pick out veggies and ate a whole apple with skin because she couldn't resist..
- Sofie swung across 4 rings at the playground (4!!! Like a pro. She is 3! And she can do monkey bars with full body weight! I had never seen that before)
- Sofie took full ownership of the "get well soon" balloons and played for 20 minutes
- she found her microphone and belted out many songs like a pro (and she regularly reenacts the music & moves from "Sofia the 1st - I'm not ready to be a princess. Did it twice)
- she cleaned up the explosion of toys she generated

These are all good things.

Now the ugly.  She refuses to take naps on weekends with us and had 3 ginormous temper tantrums... Over stupid stuff. She refused to put her shoes and socks on. She didn't like that Espen turned the volume down on the TV (I could here it outside in the front yard...). She didn't like the MickeyMouse episode I put on tv so we turned it off since she wouldn't stop screaming.  The tantrums went on for 30-45 minutes per pop. There was some serious angst. Her head was soaked with sweat for all of them. She was on the floor pounding fists and legs for one of them.  It is hard not to laugh. I wish she weren't so frustrated with us.  She isn't much of a temper tantrum kind of kid, but when she has them.

Wow. Today was a doozy. I am glad good things happened too.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Santa Claus is coming to town

This is officially our second Christmas with Sofie, but it is our first Christmas where she  kind of understands what is happening around her.  She helped me trim the tree, and she is fascinated with stories of Santa.  "Santa Claus is coming to town" is here favorite song at the moment. She also likes the story of Rudolph. We have a gingerbread Christmas puzzle. She is dying to make Christmas cookies with me.  Last week she helped me make an apple pie.  She is in happy anticipation of all the presents in Christmas day. We also have an elf on our shelf (Toodles) who is monitoring her every move and reporting back to the big man.

Despite our efforts, she is still a normal 3 year old with temper tantrums. She learned to whine within the last month at school and I have a feeling we will be hearing that for another 20 years. She is growing and developing and singing and dancing and drawing and writing and is just an amazing little girl.

I wish I could capture all her Sofie-ness to make sure I will remember it at a later date. Today she announced she is only a little bit of a friend with her classmate Sara. She is addicted to cheese sticks and almonds. She ate butternut squash ravioli, hotdogs and corn for dinner. Oh, and she had a beloved cheese stick.  She ate pumpkin bread and salmon yesterday (likes salmon and fish in general a lot).  She had a temper tantrum for 30 minutes this morning because she wanted to watch mickeymouse instead if putting on her shirt for school (her favorite maroon apple shirt).  Did I mention she is obsessed with almonds?  She ate her whole lunch today (2 peanut butter sandwiches on wheat, a banana, yogurt, fruit, almonds,  2 juice boxes, and a halloweeny treat). The letter of the week is "s". We were supposed to bring a picture of something that starts with "s" but I think we forgot. Her s's are looking and sounding good.

Her hair is long enough for pigtails, french braids, and a chignon if I had hairpins. It is still a little thin in the front, and she has heavy bangs.  She uses food as product in here hair (forgoes napkins) which provides extra textures and achieves great heights with natural product. The smell isn't the bestest. Hahahhas. Her eyes sparkle, and she never is still for a moment. Even in here sleep, here limbs are in constant movement. I don't know if it it bone growing or what, but that kid moves, she bounces. She leaps. She strides. She runs. She never meanders, walks, or grazes. She is a kid with purpose and innovation and creativity. She is a problem solver. She is amazing.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


This week, Sofie has been pretending that she has a little sister named Baby.  She actually started pretending with her Dad when they were playing at the park.  He actually told me which is even more surprising given the general reluctance to add to the family in the first place.

Last year when we got her, I was ready to start working on #2 straight away.  Now, I am open to it but I try to imagine how it will work - and how the child would find us (China, US, Africa, somewhere else).  It is a little daunting to think about starting over again.  Also, I don't know what age we would start with... if we do a local adoption, we could get a little baby, and that would be interesting.  We were at the doctor last week and there was the cutest little African American 9-month-old baby you ever saw.

Part of me also is interested in getting an older child, but that would be hard too.  I don't know how it would work.  I know that getting older children can be pretty complicated and that many of them don't work out.  I have some colleagues at work who foster-to-adopt and it has been real hard for them.  They thought they had a child and then the parents wouldn't relinquish rights and it has been awful for them and the child.

What to do?

Monday, November 19, 2012


The are many times that I know we got extremely lucky with our child. Today is one of them.  It just strikes me randomly, and I know I rhapsodize about her all the time, but I can't help it.

Sofie is so beautiful. Her inner light shines through. She is thoughtful and caring. She does random acts of kindness to us and the cats (and strangers). Last year, she was a big kiss blower - quite the hit at airports, supermarkets, and parks. This year, she is a hugged and kisser. Today after dinner, she came up to me and hugged me, kissed me, and told me she loved me.  It was so sweet.

Yesterday, she was loving all over Pita. She nuzzled her nose, caressed her face/ears, gave he sweet kisses and loved all over her.  She was so gentle and delicately touched her... So not a 3 year old thing.

She is a wily combination of her dad and me.  Her curiosity, love of music/dance, singlemindedness and independence all scream of me.  Her inability to watch tv unless there is total silence, throw random stuff, and grumpiness in the am are like her dad.

Being a mom has helped me frame gratitude in a whole new light. I know I am not the best mom but I do the best I can with her. I am thankful for every minute. I imagined life with a child, and it is amazing how close the picture was to my reality.  It is an amazing thing and I am so thankful.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Count down to gotcha day

Last year at this time, we were on a plane, headed to Beijing.  We thought we were ready to go, had everything we needed, and the excitement and anticipation was killing us.  I even brought my InStyle magazine so I could take pictures at the great wall.

We had thanksgiving dinner the week before since we had so much to be thankful for.  The house was clean. Her room was clean. Our neighbor was putting together furniture for her room while we traveled. I had just finished the mural.  My girlfriend was housesitting.

This is the anniversary of the beginning and the middle.  It signifies our growth, our love, our hope, and our belief that everything works out.  We boarded the plane out of the country as individuals and came back as a family.  It didn't matter that we didn't have the same blood, speak the same language, or live in a different country.  It didn't matter that our cultures were different.  It didn't matter that we had different needs.  We had love and an unspoken & unwavering understanding that everything would be fine.

One year later, I learned some Chinese. I can lift 35 pounds with one arm. I can deflect a temper tantrum 80% of the time. I am an artist, a teacher, a singer, curriculum director, snuggle buddy, friend, wife, crafter, ball tosser, dribbler, chef, laundress, leader, rock star, hero, princess, nail tech, groomer, stylist, driver, storyteller, decorator, maid...  And I occasionally work when I am not sick.

Journeys ... Sometimes you know when they are coming and not where they lead.  You stay on it because you love it.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Still sick

As I am nearing our 1 year anniversary of leaving for China, I am still sick.  This has been a beast - cold, bronchitis, pneumonia... I guess I have overdone it big time.

Sofie has been a trooper because her dad and I have both been sick.  I feel bad about not having enough activities for her to use up all her energy, but it will come eventually right?

So much has happened this year.  I am so glad overall that we got her.  It was worth every minute.  all the heartache we have had since has also been worth it.

I wouldn't change it for the world.

We are lucky to have her, and she is lucky to have us.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

They threw a fungus ball at me, exploding into pieces

I read through my last post, and it is no wonder that I came down with a cold/flu thing halfway into my trip in Paris.  I did leave the hotel twice by the way (walking to/from) dinner.  I did not eat meat.  I did have a bit of cheese, a lot of spicy mustard, bread, and quasi vegetarian fare. Granted, they did bring me fish one of the days for my meal... I went to the salad bar and got beet salad.

The hours were long. The plane ride home was excruciating and I have slept more than 48 hours in the last 36. I have the best husband in the world who babied me when I got home. Our daughter has been super duper too.  She seems to have grown another inch and a half since I left - all her pants are way too short.  I am very lucky that I got to collapse on the most beautiful day ever (72 degrees, dry and sunny... Don't know if my boss really believed I was sick... It was the most beautiful day in the world to be sick).

And so I hack and snort and sneeze. Some of the websites say it is all the toxins I have consumed and failed to release since I wasn't sleeping and eating well.  I am kind of not surprised if that is so.  Lots of snot.

There was a Liverpool game on today, and I made construction paper jack-o-lanterns with Sofie during the game. I feel like I did my part, as inadequate as it was.  Now, the hubby is shopping for some sort of dinner... He took her to a birthday party at old McDonald's farm this morning... And I am just lying here, hacking away.  ok, I have not done my share. We are missing a live soccer game this evening because I am sick ... Bummer. I had been looking forward to it all month.  I always resent those people who go to work/functions/sporting events/symphony/etc sick because they share with everyone. I need to be ready for Madonna on Thursday and my friends' visit in the weekend.

Come on healing.

Friday, October 12, 2012


Being the bread winner and a mom is really hard.  This week blew because I worked 13 hours a day and barely got to see my little girl & family at all.  It is budgeting time and planning time for next year, and everyone has expectations.  My colleague and I had worked out our plans months ago, and my boss rescheduled a bunch of crap this week & double booked us.  We had to do the other stuff too because the world at large was depending on us to deliver and I didn't want to let them down.  Oh yeah, and we went commercial on a year long development and yeah, there was unexpected downtime.

Our work barely coincides with the other team members and I really resent that I have to sit around for 13 hours in a row for 3 days consecutively to hear more about other people's stuff that needs to be enhanced.  The intersection is narrow and could be covered in a 30 minute overview.  Last week I was left out of a meeting that is going to be pivotal for future developments, and ...  I am consumed with work.

I barely know who I am this week.  I don't enjoy 13-14 hour days.  I miss my family.  I miss having friends.  I miss hanging out and drinking wine.  I miss writing.  I miss meditating. I miss eating healthy. I miss exercising.  I thought I had figured it out and then this week blew in like the witch from the north.  Crap-ass lunches were brought in every day which were full of processed stuff and there was no alternative.. ok the alternative was water, but for a 13 hour day, it just doesn't cut it.

Next week will be more of the same since we are headed to Paris for more requirements.  I wonder if it is possible to visit Paris for 3 days and not leave the hotel.  I am afraid that is my future.

I wonder if it is possible to go to Paris and not eat meat/fish/cheese/bread/pastries.  I know, I know.  Who would want that?  I am a lunatic.  I know there is a mini-prix across the street from the hotel and was contemplating buying fresh fruit & veg and smuggling it in the conference.

I don't even know where my winter coat is... It is still summer here, you know?  It was only 90 degrees here today and the humidity was only like 70%.  Bliss.  I say this as if I actually experienced it (lie).  I did see it from outside the window, and they reported the high on the news on my way home when I tried to leave early (left at 5:30... started at 7:15... ).  It was a nice short day.  Hardee har har.

I am really torn.  The work is exciting, challenging, and completely having the potential of being bleeding edge.  I could lose myself in it and 10 years would go by.  I was waiting for a job like this for 6 years.

I was waiting for Sofie for 12.

I was waiting for the hubby for 22.

Where is it?
I think I have it in my fingertips, and then it flies away
a mirage
I never really had it
I drank sand and ate rocks
I felt the pleasure but withered away to nothing in a second
A ghost for a moment
holding my paper dreams.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

10 months?!

Time is flying by.  We have just passed the 10 month mark, and I can't believe we are so close to a year.  We have been so lucky with everything, and every day is better than the past. Sofie is amazing. She is our daughter. Sometimes I still boggle that she is mine. I wonder if parents who have their own children have the wonder (and denial) that this little person is their's.   Her language continues to develop. She is learning to write at school (at 3?!). She is so much fun, dancing, singing, golfing, watching football, etc. she has an active imagination. She is amazing, and I am so lucky to have been matched with her.

During the waiting part of the process, it was a beast. I couldn't ask for anything more. I am blessed. Thank you to the universe. I hope I can be the mom this special person needs.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What starts with "T"

Last night I came home from work and the husband announced that Sofie had her first homework assignment ever - she needed to bring a picture of something that started with the letter "t". He was freaking out because he thought we would need to take a picture and get it developed. My first thought was "what is something that starts with "t"... I definitely had blank mommy brain at that moment. Right before I went to bed, it occurred to me that we still hadn't resolved the issue, so I suggested that I draw a picture (duh). I grabbed her markers, a piece of paper, and decided a good word would be tree.  I drew the best tree ever... And then I put in flowers too because I couldn't resist.  I left it in the counter and went to bed.

Fast forward to mid morning.  The hubby called me to tell me that Sofie found the Picture when she woke up this morning,and she was delighted with it.  She held it during bottle, getting dressed, riding it the car, and refused to give it up when she got to school (to put it in her cubby) because mommy made it.  He thought it was charming.  Other parents pulled pictures out of books (desecration) or developed photos (huh? Overachievers?)... Sofie had the only hand drawn one in the class.

The funniest thing is that this afternoon when Sofie came home, her daily report card had her first (and only) sticker on it with a "good work, mommy" message.  Lol. I haven't gotten a gold star from a teacher in years!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sick days

Sofie caught a bug from someone at school and was running a fever a couple days ago.  Then the cough started, and it went downhill.  When she is sick, she has a much shorter fuse & almost higher energy than when she isn't.  She went to the doctor friday, and she confirmed it was a virus.

Yesterday, her dad went to play golf with friends all day, and we hung out.  I hoped she would be low key since she kept us up all night coughing and crying, but she had lots of energy and my vision of a slow tv-day evaporated by 9 am.  We did do a bunch of low key activities - playing barbie, legos, puzzles, blocks, coloring, and then I brought out some craft surprises...  I am not really that crafty by nature, but I want to give her those opportunities to express herself in all ways so she can figure herself out later in life... Halloween is coming up, and I am sure they are covering the upcoming holiday in school, so building some masks were our task of the morning.  We had markers, feathers, and a glue stick as well as paper mask cutouts.  I could have sworn I bought sequin/jewels at the same time, but I sure couldn't find them.  Sofie's favorite movie at the moment is "Rio" and she loves birds, so I figured we could make some neat bird/carnival-like masks (it is carnival in the movie).  We started by coloring the masks, and then played with glue sticks - not the ideal stick medium apparently - but by applying a lot of glue we made the feathers stick.  All in all it was a good morning.

We tried napping in the afternoon, and there were a lot of tears.  She ended up not going to bed until late because we didn't do enough physical stuff with her.  Her nose was running, she was feverish, and there was a lot of coughing going on so I figured a slow day would be good for her.  The joke was on me.

I started feeling like I was coming down with the cold by 2:30 and have been fighting it off.  We had a playdate scheduled today, but we needed to cancel ... it is a big bummer.  It is American football season, and I am going to have to be the distractor this afternoon.  Hopefully I will come up with something else fun to do with Sofie to keep her occupied but happy.

This morning was a winy morning.  I think she still doesn't feel great.

How do you keep your kids entertained when they are sick but not sick enough to want to lie there/snuggle?  I have great hopes that someday, Sofie will be a snuggler...

Friday, September 7, 2012

Night terrors

For all of you out there who don't know much about night terrors, it is an uncommon problem for most kids that starts when they are 2-3 and can last as long as until they are 5.

They are characterized by your child seeming to be awake and having them walk around the house, screaming, crying, calling out, hitting, punching, slapping, spiting, scratching, etc. They can't hear you. You can't wake them up.  They seem like they are awake, but they aren't.  My daughter has absolutely no recollection of them when she wakes up in the morning, even if we have been up all night with her... Her eyes are wide open.  She follows the light.  She seems awake, but she really isn't.  It is real hard to calm her down.  She doesn't hear what we say.  Usually, it takes about 20-90 minutes to get her back to sleep.  On bad nights, she will have them back to back all night.  Last night was a killer.

The doctors say that having an irregular bedtime routine contributes to them (being overtired).  What I have found is that if our daughter is going through a period of change (new teacher at school, mommy traveling,  new people in/out of house, missing cat, slightly different routine), she feels the change more profoundly than most kids and she reacts by having night terrors.  The other thing that used to make a difference, but doesn't seem to now based on last night, is that when she slept in our room, she didn't have them.  For the first time, she had them in our room which totally blew my mind.  Our room has been our safe place, and I don't know what the impetus was for her to feel uncomfortable.

Sure, some nights she is restless and "fighting" all night.  I didn't really characterize them as night terrors because she wasn't running around the house.

I am not giving up hope that she will work these things out.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Rosey glasses

We had the best long weekend. Sofie was attached to my arm in a death grip the whole time, but we managed to get around town alright. Her development has come so far - we were playing with the magnetic etch a sketch yesterday and she wanted me to make a eh-eh-min ... I couldn't figure it out. It sounded like vitamin to me... She laughed at me, dug around in her toy chest and out came the spiderman  flashlight.  She pointed and said eh-eh-min, and then I laughed, delighted we figured tur how to communicate.

We also went to the jumpa jumpa place (activity place for kids <7) and she made instantaneous friends with another pretty little girl in a pink skirt. They were both jumping on an airpad and tossing little balls/chasing them off the pad like maniacs. Anywhere Sofie went, the little girl followed.  I have one charismatic kid! I was so proud of her for making friends so fast with an older girl and handling the situation so well.  Also, they have this kiddie sized train that is arm propelled and she loves it.  She flies down the tracks so fast and has the best time. I want to remember.  When she reallysmiles, I hear birds singing and my heart laughs with her.  God I love that kid.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


It was wonderful to be picked up at the airport by my husband and Sofie.  This weekend is a holiday in the US, and Sofie's school was off yesterday.  My plane was early from Newark, and the family had just pulled into the passenger pickup area when I made it out the door since I didn't check bags.  I got a great hug and kiss from my husband, and tossed my carry-on's in the back of the car.  I walked over to Sofie's door, opened it, and got the best hug and kiss.  As a little surprise for her, I walked over to the other side of the car and sat in the back seat with her the entire way back home.  She didn't say a word to me and was just staring at me with a shy smile on her face.

She got a haircut while I was out of town, and she really looks very China doll-like with her blunt bangs and shoulder length bob. I did get her to smile for real and talk a little bit in the car as we soared towards home.  At one point, I looked at the speedometer and we were going more than 80... it really was soaring!   When we got home, she was as happy as a clam.

It is good to be home with the family.  I was pretty jetlagged. The hubby took Sofie to the zoo while I napped after lunch and we had some good dancing sessions before dinner.  She crashed in about 10 minutes after 9:10... The hubby doesn't know what I do to get her to sleep so fast.  I just sing songs.  We have been singing "Somewhere over the Rainbow" and "On the Loose" and she just relaxes when she hears them.

Anyway, she had a rough night.  Something chases her in her dreams, and I don't think she hears us trying to help her/reassure her when she is where she goes at night.  It breaks my heart.  I am not sure what we can do for her environment so she knows she is safe.  I wish I could create a protective barrier for her so she has sweet dreams.  In the morning, she has no recollection and says she is happy.  I wish I could be as reassured in the morning when I have been rocking her screams and tears away for so many hours.  She is constantly kicking and slapping away her tormentor.  I wonder if teaching her karate during the day would help strengthen her defense at night.  I don't know.  Suggestions are welcome.

Anyway, today I have been a wreck since I didn't sleep last night, and I had a hard time waking up this morning. They let me sleep in and went swimming/noodling/shopping.  The jet lag still has his grips on me for sure.  I need to get my stuff together and am glad I have a long weekend to do it.

Have a good one.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Made it

I made it to India in one piece last night.  It is very tropical - imagine Houston but humid (hahaha)... It is more humid that Houston. I don't know how, but it is.  It also reminds me of Jamaica and Malaysia. I didn't see much last night since it was dark except for a lot of wild dogs and a bunch of men out on the town.  The women don't roam the streets at night. When I got to the hotel, they said a little prayer for me and put pink dried paint on my third eye. It was cool.

The hotel (renaissance) is very nice. I had a lovely breakfast this morning with my colleague, Ali. We are headed to the office soon to go motivate the team.

I skyped with Sofie and her dad this morning. She was so happy to see me. Apparently she didn't sleep at all last night.  Poor baby and poor daddy. I made a couple videos for her at the airport on Sunday and sent them to her dad but he said they made things worse. She played them 60 times each and cried a lot. I hope tonight is better for everyone. Think nice thoughts for them.

Have a wonderful day!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Traveling again

I am traveling to India on Sunday a few months early... We had a last minute situation come up at work, and we need to visit our vendors.  I am feeling some trepidation leaving the family because Sofie has been extra needy lately.  We believe she has been abused in her past based on certain things that have come up recently and it is going to be hard to leave her.  She is feeling extra vulnerable because she was recently moved up a level at preschool (now with the 4 year olds) and none of her friends moved with her.  It is a tough situation because we are delighted she is so bright, but she had finally made some good friends at school... We feel for her.  Every time she gets comfortable, something changes in her life.  I guess this happens pretty regularly in my life too, so I am passing on the uncertainty to her. I hope she can cope.

Since she doesn't have much concept of time yet (now, sometime, sometime in the past) we haven't really talked about the trip yet.  My husband thinks I am springing this on her and torturing her because I planned to tell her tomorrow, but I really didn't want to worry her week since she doesn't understand time anyway.  I hope she is fine.  We have Skype but India is 10.5 hours different in time zone (24 hour trip) and it will be tricky to get her when she is awake.

Anyway, I am feeling some anxiety about leaving her.  I will only be gone from Sunday - Friday morning, but it is still hard.  I am relieved that there is a 3 day weekend next weekend and I will have some time to recover from the time change.  Hopefully there will be pictures.  This is the first time for me.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Still waters

Sofie had some major accomplishments this week that are note worthy.  First, we took her swimming at the Y for the second time ever (first time in pool with me), and Sofie was brave enough to put her head under the water multiple times and blow bubbles.  I showed her how to do it once, and she tried it 50-60 times.  She also was able to float by putting her hands on the bottom of the pool (1' deep), and her legs went right up.  She also floated on her back which was pretty exciting too.  She loves the water.

Also, this week, we received notice at her preschool that they are moving her up to the 4 year old age group.  I can't believe she would move from the 3 years to the 4 year olds in two months.  Her dad is going to discuss it more with the preschool tomorrow to find out what the impetus for this was.  She totally IS a smarty pants - can identify all 26 capital letters.  She also can read Mickey Mouse and Dinosaur Train.  But, I didn't think she was at 4 year old level. That is totally surprising.

Doing the work/life balance things has been tough the last few weeks.  We have been getting ready to roll out a new version of software, budget for 2013, and building requirements for the rest of the year. Things are crazy.  I am working too much, and now I have a last minute trip to India coming up this weekend.  I am hoping that my departure will not create too much disruption in her life (with behavior regression). We have almost gotten to a stable point since all the visitors left.  It has been about 4 weeks now, and she finally isn't having night terrors most nights, she has a routine, and she tells us she is feeling happy.  I will cross my fingers on this one.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Happy Days

Happy days are far more preferable to no good, very bad days.  I love the mornings where she wakes up and is a ray of sunshine.  I can see her dimples when she is radiating joy.  Nothing can phase her.  She bounces on air.  She is very playful and fun.  She takes more initiative on these days and tries new things out.  She managed to take off her diaper, go potty, and clean herself up this morning.  She was so proud.  So what if she went commando most of the morning?

She slept all through the night in her own bed.  God bless us all.  It is amazing what a good night's sleep can give for the family.  We had a nice morning snuggling while she drank her bottle and watched a combination of the Olympics and "Little Bill".  By the way, I love "Little Bill". The music is my favorite part.  It is jazz - real jazz - not the smooth jazz stuff that other people I know like to listen to in the evenings.  Sometimes they riff on nursery rhymes.  A lot of the time they don't, and I can watch that show forever because the music is so good.  Yes, I get the theme song in my head, but it doesn't matter.

She had a melt down at 1:30 and I put her down for a nap by singing about rainbows.  She went down really fast (for once) while I was completely mauling "Somewhere over the rainbow".  I know we sang that song & other rainbow medleys as part of our sing choir, but I have forgotten most of the words.  I made up better ones.  LOL.

Apparently, I have joined the ranks of parents who can understand their kids, but no one else can.  With her speech impediment, some days are harder than others (zoo sounds a lot like shoe, sew, too, noodles, etc.) but we are getting it.  Chocolate sounds a lot more like chocolate these days than "shower" which is what it used to sound like a long time ago. I know I will forget these things and need to write them down to remember.  Yesterday, Sofie went to the zoo with her Daddy and they went to the Dinosaur exhibit because she had been pestering her dad for half an hour about it.  Apparently, the Dinosaur exhibit has very realistic, lifelike, huge animals that move and make alarming "roaring" sounds.  It was a disaster.  Our little girl went quietly in her stroller and hid behind her hands while they walked through the park.  Even a train ride did nothing to quell her fears.  When she got home with him, I asked if they wanted to go to lunch for Noodles (her all time favorite food).  She said no. She didn't want dinosaurs.  I asked if we should take off her shoes.  She said she didn't want dinosaurs.  I asked her if she wanted a sandwich.  She said that there could be no dinosaurs.  You get the picture right?  No more dinosaurs for awhile.

I am rambling, but that is where we are at the moment. She is blissfully napping, and I am enjoying a moment of solitude while the hubby enjoys his with the Olympics.  Happy Days to you.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Free fall

We have been audited and need to provide more documentation about the adoption. I had my few moments alone while daddy and Sofie were shipping to find all the docs an copy them. Also, I need to finalize the readoption in our state and was making updates.

During the paper process, I found the picture book her foster parents and adoption agency put together with shots of her old life. I had the bright idea of showing them to her and ... Sadness and desolation followed. She wants to move back to China, wants her old parents and doesn't want us. I am heartbroken.

I know she is happy. It will take longer for her, I guess.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Growing up so fast

They said it would happen, and I was talking with my mom this morning and realized that we have had so many cool things happening lately with Sofers so I thought I would bring you up to speed.

Since we met her, Sofie learned how to:

  • Breakdance (hilarious but amazing - she can balance on one hand and kick her legs up... she also spins around on her butt in circles) - I believe she learned these moves from our Kinect Dance Program
  • Sing many songs - Twinkle Twinkle, ABCs, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Old McDonald, Bingo, Everyone Poops (a mommy classic made up to the theme of "soft kitty"), Happy Birthday, Wo ai ni (Another mommy made up song), the Moon comes out (ok... i know, i make up a lot of songs), and more.   She knows 20-30 of them.  I giggle every morning when she is belting out "Everybody poops" and wonder what they think of that one at preschool.
  • Identify most of her letters.  It is true.  She is only 3 and has been in the US for 8 months.  Wowsers.  Partial reinforcement from School and from home.
  • Count to 12. She also can count by 10's to 100.  
  • Make the "p","b", "s", "l", and "d" sounds.  Lots of speech therapy.
  • Catch & drop kick size 4 soccer balls (thanks daddy.  She narrowly took out my coffee the other day because he taught her to do it in the house).  She can also catch much smaller and bigger balls.  She also dribbles basketballs skillfully & showboats with a soccer ball with daddy like a pro.  
  • Watch TV.  I know. We are going to hell.  When we first met her, she would watch maybe 20 seconds.  We have her up to almost 30 minutes now.  40 minutes if there is kefir involved.
  • Stir chocolate chip cookie dough.  Measure in teaspoons and measuring cups.
  • Lock/unlock seatbelts on planes, cars, car seats, high chairs, strollers, etc.
My time is up.  The kids are home.  Have a wonderful day.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Visitor Etiquette

My husband has invited various friends and family members to stay at our house almost non-stop since March.  The minimum time to visit has been at least 14 days and has extended to up to 30.  I am tired.  It is hard to work a full time job, have a newly adopted child, and cope with having strangers at your house for extended periods.  In retrospect, I should have said no blinking way.  I try to get along and be reasonable, but my patience has worn thin.  I want to write about things I wish I had said to get it out in the universe because I can't do this again.

Of course it is lovely to see you.  I know that you paid money to fly to visit us.  However, we don't come and stay at your house for over a week when we come visit.  When we do stay longer than a week, we paint your house & do tasks around the house to be helpful.  Since you insist on staying at our house, these are the rules.

- Activate your bank cards/ATM cards/credit cards before you come.  We are not a minibank.  If you do borrow money, pay us back and buy us a present for the inconvenience.

- When you come, rent a car.  If you do not plan to rent a car, plan your budget accordingly to account for transportation to/from our house.  Do not expect my husband to drive you everywhere at any time.  We are not going to be able to drop you off in another city 3 hours away for a fun weekend away.  It isn't "easy" to do that. Do not expect us to drive you to destinations more than an hour away without providing some gas money.  Do not expect us to wait in the car while you shop (again) at another mall (again).  If we have to work, do not expect for us to cancel our work to drive you to the mall.

- You are on vacation.  I am not.  Please don't demand that we keep your hours because I have to keep my job in order to provide a place for you to sleep your vacation.  Please be aware that being loud after I go to bed is a problem.  Also, our child must go to sleep at a normal time.  Please do not interfere with the schedule.

- Do not make snide comments about how much I work. I am extending my resources for the hospitality for your visit. If I didn't work as much as I do, you wouldn't have the luxurious guest amenities you have.

- When you come, budget to take us to dinner at least 1x per week that you stay.  You are staying at my house for free.  I am saving you $100-300/day in hotel fees. I am saving you $50/day in food fees.  You are using my resources (electricity, water, gas, waste, linens, appliances, coffee, food, etc).  The least you can do is pay for dinner at least once per week.  Even more would be appropriate - especially if you expect to go out to dinner a couple nights a week.  We eat at home most days because we can't afford to go out to breakfast/lunch/dinner every day.  When you expect for us to do this with you (because you didn't rent a car and you don't feel like cooking/buying food or do not enjoy our food), please be aware that you are changing our lifestyle while you are here.

- I am not your maid service.  If you need to clean something, wash it.  Do not leave crumbs around my house.  Put your plates in the dishwasher.  We live in the South and there are bugs.  When we told you do not open food in your room, we meant it.  When you left the candy/chips/cookies open in your room, we got an ant/cockroach problem.  It was real thoughtful of you to leave special guests.  We had to invite an exterminator to visit regularly because you wouldn't respect our rules.

- If you plan to eat dinner with us, come down when we eat.  Otherwise, do not under any circumstances text us to bring you food in your room or on the balcony.  We do not do room service.  We are not a hotel.  If you want to stay at a hotel, we can recommend some with room service.

- When you have gone shopping, bought 3 extra suitcases, and have so many clothes you can't carry them home and have to pay overage fees, don't expect us to feed you indefinitely and definitely don't complain you don't have money.  Don't expect us to drive you to the airport in 2 cars.  Don't expect us to carry your suitcases to check in, and it is not ok that you expect us to pay the overage fees.

- If you break or ruin something, replace it.  Don't pretend that you didn't know you broke it and leave it.  If you stain something, let us know so we can try to fix it.

- It would also be ok if you offered to babysit one night during your visit so that my husband and I can go out to dinner. We have even less alone time than usual with your visit, and it really feels like you are taking advantage of us.

- We are open to going out and doing things with you.  Do some homework before you come and don't expect us to be your tour guide for the 2-4 weeks you are visiting.  You are independent when you are home. Be independent when you stay with us.

- Explore the US.  There are many things to see in the US, and there is a world out there waiting for you.  Our place isn't the most exciting place to see.  Make us a 4-6 day stop and then keep on going.  We will have more love for one another if you think about this.

Ok. I said my peace. Thanks for listening.  If I have offended you, think about how you would feel in my shoes.  They have been heavy lately, and the financial impact of your visit is going to be impacting me for at least another 6 months.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Going to grandma's

So, on Sunday, I had like 30 minutes in a row to shower & groom myself (Note: Since I became a mom, even the most mundane tasks like taking care of my eyebrows seem to be a challenge)... anyway, I came downstairs afterwards and all the chairs around the kitchen table were running 90 degrees off to the table, facing the back wall.  Sofie & her dad were wearing shoes and backpacks and pretending to fly on planes to visit Grandma & Grandpa.  I saw it, heard her making the zooming sounds of a plane flying, saw her jump up, smile, exclaim "Hi Grandma! Hi Grandpa! I missed you. I am so glad to see you.  I love you. Bye".. She and her dad took the trip many times that afternoon and it warmed my heart.  Apparently, she bullied Espen into putting the backpack and shoes on.  She also sat him on the plane.  I love that little girl.  I had to share.

Also, my hubby and I had a date on Sun night, and I got ready for it. Sofie was so excited, she had to get dressed up too.  She picked out her favorite dress, put it on carefully, found her necklaces, put them on, followed me into the bathroom and watched me apply makeup.  She was standing so still & watching so intently, I couldn't resist asking her if she wanted some makeup too.  I put some aqua eye liner on her top lids, giving her cat eyes.  It matched her dress even.  She looked so beautiful.  Then we did some fun hair stuff for her too.  After we walked downstairs, she put on these "platform" espadrille sandals & picked up this very small metal lunchbox for her purse & was ready to go.  She was accessorized to the max.  We all looked like a million bucks on the way to the babysitter. It was priceless.

Tonight, our visitors came back and are staying for an indeterminate amount of time (why oh why can't my husband just ask).  Sofie and I had a quiet night, and she was playing a lot while I folded the mountain of laundry that intimidates my hubby.  I got her to help me fold a twin sheet the right way. Then she discovered that sheets make excellent parachutes, and we had a ball.  There was hide and seek. There was wind. There was giggling.  There was tickling.  It was such a great stress reliever after a very long day with grumpy people.  How did I get so lucky?  She even fell asleep early tonight.  Bliss.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Home without visitors/travel/etc

This is the first weekend in a very, very long time (months and months) where:
1) We have no visitors staying in the house
2) I am not leaving the country/traveling
3) I am not coming home from international travel
4) We have no visitors arriving tomorrow (they are coming on Wednesday, LOL).
5) No one is sick... except if you don't count my hubby having back probs
6) None of the combinations above are happening at the same time

It is a nice thing to have the house to ourselves.  My hubby took pity on me and let me take a nap today from 11 - 2:30.  It was amazing.  I got sleep.  It was amazing.  He took Sofie to the grocery and I got some peace and quiet.  It rained so hard while I napped that it woke me up (and I was feeling bad for Pita because she was outside) but I didn't feel bad enough to go out searching for the cat.  The hubby told me that it didn't rain where he was, so that was good too.  I was feeling bad he was carting around Sofie in the rain, but it was ok.  Oh, and the house didn't flood.  Also good.  Some parts of Houston got 14 inches in 24 hours (YIKES) and I am glad it wasn't us.

My carpal tunnel is acting up, I believe due to the last month of crazy work schedules.  I got a massage last week and my therapist told me that I need to make sure I stand up every hour and stretch for a couple minues... I tend to go 6 hours without moving I think and it isn't so good for the body.  I have some bad spots in my left shoulder, right elbow, ribs, lower back and right hand.  This week I tried to take it more easy, remembered to set an alarm to go off every hour a couple of the days, and the hubby put pressure on me to come home after 10 hours.  I made that one 3 out of 5 days which was a big improvement over the last couple months.  It is hard to balance work, Sofie, him and myself.  I struggle big time.

Sofie has been wonderful this week. When she smiles completely, I see her heart & her happiness and everything is worth it.  It makes my heart smile too.  Real, honest to goodness, legitimate smiles.  She is amazing.  We had a super special day on Tuesday where we made chocolate chip cookies (learned ingredients, measures, stirring, sneaking bites out of the bowl, portioning out on cookie sheet, baking, cooling, etc.).  It was awesome.  Then we did some very cool dancing to "Water Music"and Sofie showed off her BREAK DANCING skills.  She is too cool for our house!  I need to get her enrolled in dance classes this fall.  She scooted her little butt in a circle while her legs propelled her around.  She also jumped forward on one arm and kicked both legs in the air (and didn't fall over).  Way too coordinated. Did I mention that the hubby taught her to drop kick a size 4 soccer ball in the house this week?  We had a narrow miss with my coffee this morning.  She has the best fine motor skills ever.  I say this while she has the most bruised legs i have ever seen because the practicing to do this show boating for mommy has taken its toll on her little body.

What else?  She is talking more and more.  It is amazing.  She is working on "t's" and "d's" with the speech therapist (really hard).  She can't say "c" or "k" sounds yet.  Her p, b, and q sounds are great.  S, f, and j are good too.  Did I mention before that she is talking in full sentences (and sounds just like me?!?!?!)?  Does everyone groan when they hear certain phrases coming out of their kid's mouths that sounds very groan up?  Not cursing, but just situational stuff?  It makes me laugh and shake my head.  I love that kid.

Hope you have a good one.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


The unimaginable happened this afternoon.  The hubby started talking about wanting to add another child to our family.  To be honest, I didn't see it coming.  He has been quasi-overwhelmed by the addition of Sofie to our family, and his friends that are visiting have been putting the pressure on adding a 2nd child to the mix.  He sees how well she plays with the other children and thinks she could be lonely and really want another brother or sister, and he is willing to do it for her.

When we first got Sofie I was ready to start the paperwork.  Now, I don't know which country we would get another child from and how we would pay for it.  I don't know.  Will ponder this weekend.


We have had some friends of my husband arrive this week, and it has completely changed the dynamic of the house.  It is one of his best friends in the world, his wife, and their 2 kids who are 7 & 9.  Sofie took about 4 hours to warm up to the girls, and now they are best friends.  It amazes me that the kids can play together while still speaking different languages (Norwegian vs English/Chinese).  My conversational Norwegian is pretty rusty, and I am working on it.  The adults do speak a bit of English, but they really want to speak Norwegian because you know.. they are from Norway.  Why would you speak a different language to your husband & husband's friend, right?  It was totally crazy when they first got her on Monday because I had just returned from Paris, and I could remember no words.  What came out when I tried to talk was a smattering of English, French, Spanish and Norwegian, with the occasional Chinese for good measure.  I have swiss cheese for brains.

Anyway, I have everyone fooled that I understand what the *blink* they are talking about - ok - sometimes I do- but after 6 hours I just get a headache and need to hide out.  Yesterday was long.  I took today and tomorrow off too so I could spend some quality time with the family and I am not sure how I am going to make it through.  I need to just stop being a baby and get on with it.

The good news is that Sofie wants to be just like the other grown up girls, and so she has moved forward again with her eating/temper tantrums/sleeping/etc.  To be honest, with 2 grown up girls, she is having the time of her life keeping up with them.  If one feels worn out, she can just be active with the other one.  Totally ideal situation.

Anyway, headed to Galveston. Have a nice weekend.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Priorities and moving forward

I just returned home from a 1 week visit in Paris, and it was hard.  I left the husband and Sofie at home.  It broke my heart to hear about how sad they were while I was away.

Since I have gotten home, Sofie is happy.  But, there has been regression in behavior.  The first thing that goes is always night-time/nap-time potty training.  I don't understand it.  I have read about i and the specialists say that we shouldn't worry until she turns 5 but she was so potty trained in China.  It is completely weird.  Today, she didn't even take much of a nap and she still wet the diaper.  Also, she is crying any time anything doesn't go her way, which was how it was when we first got her.  I am trying not to lose my temper with her expression of frustration and continue to be as loving as I can.  I know it has been hard for her.

When I was in Paris, I met this interesting colleague who was enthralled with my story of adoption, and she had lots of questions.  It was like she looked deep within my soul, and she tried to give me advice of what she had learned on her journey with her 2 sons.  She talked a lot about the typical company profile and how it tends to recruit hard working, challenge loving junkies who have a hard time setting limits and saying "no".  I totally meet that criteria and have been an over-working fool over the last 15 years.

Anyway, she said that she had seen a lot of new mothers get burned out as a result of their inability to set limits and that she herself had struggled with it when she was a new mom.  She recommended that I think about what my limits are and how to make sure that I respect them.  It was a timely discussion (I don't doubt that this is higher intelligence trying to keep me on track) and I do feel like I have been out of control.  I have been working 12 hour days regularly in the 4 months I am back, and the upcoming travel schedule for Q3 is gruesome.  Also, we are going to be commercializing our new software and there is potential to work 16 hour days every day to make things work.

Every time I leave home, Sofie suffers at the moment, and I wonder if I need to give her more mommy time so she feels more secure.  I don't know what the long term ramifications of my traveling & the adoption will be (will she always feel abandoned because I leave her regularly)?  How can I balance the needs of my child with the needs of my job with the needs of my husband and my needs?  It seems exceptionally tricky.  I am not good at having limits - as seen by my numerous knee surgeries, bad joints, pinched nerves and achievement driven success.  How can I put them on myself and remain an outstanding member of the team delivering what the company needs?  How can I say "no"?  Can I say "no" and still respect myself?  I am struggling with these questions at the moment.

Meanwhile, our next round of visitors is arriving tomorrow (a Norwegian family of 4) who is staying off and on for a couple weeks.  We are unaware of what their English level is and I am feeling a bit of trepidation about it, but what can I do but seize the day and go with the flow (and drink?)?

Oh wait, they don't drink.  What on earth will we do together? LOL. I am kidding.  I have reduced the sauce significantly since Sofie came into our life. I just don't feel as compelled to drink it, and I have been on a bit of a health improvement kick for months.  I became a vegetarian about a month and a half ago (some days are better than others; being a vegetarian in Paris is nearly impossible)... Anyway, respecting my body and feeding it better fuel has been part of my health kick which means less alcohol, though I do have the occasional margarita.  Boy, this turned into a rambling about alcohol.

Anyway, what to do?  Where is the balance?  How can I do it?  I need your love and support to make it so.

All my best.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

7 months now, Baby

It's been awhile. Time just rushes by in a blink of an eye.  I don't know how long it has been since I wrote - too long.

We had a nice trip home to see family a couple weeks ago.  Sofie is in love with her cousin and they were awesome together, holding hands, running through sprinklers, pointing at huge bigger-than-life bugs... We never could get a good picture of them together, but they look just like those greeting cards with the kids holding hands.  My sister in law commented that it would be funny if they got married.  I am just happy to see those kids so happy.  I am relieved that Sofie can be so happy since the transition has had its ups and downs.

Sofie also enjoyed seeing grandma, grandpa, the great-grandmas, great-grandpa, aunts, uncles, cousins, 2nd cousins, great aunts/uncles, etc.  It was a good time.  She slept through the night after the first night of night terrors.  She loves airplanes.  She is that kid on the plane I used to curse about who screams her head off and bounces.  She is a kicker too.  After the people in front of us reclined 100% for a 2 hour flight, I didn't care anymore.  Chocolate kept her at bay for part of the flight but by the time we got home, she was WIRED!

Today is the official start of month 7.  I can't believe this transition.  She is joyous during the day most of the time.  She is as smart as a whip according to unnamed house guests with recent 2 & 3 year old exposure.  She also has been assessed by a kindergarten teacher relative who is very impressed with Sofie's fine motor & counting skills. She has been moved to age appropriate kindergarten.  She continues to grow up.  Her hair is positively stunning.  Her language skills are getting pretty good.  We still need the speech therapy, but we understand her a lot more of the time.  The other day, she shocked the heck out of us when she said clearly, "Mommy, I need medicine! PAIN medicine..."  (we were trying to figure out where she got that, and my mom takes credit because she had rotator cuff/ruptured biceps surgery twice (long story) last month and was liking the pain meds while we were home)...

It totally floored us.

She has totally taken to our houseguest for these last 2 weeks and has the best time with him.  He has a 3 year old at home and says that they couldn't be more different.  He plays with Sofie for hours, but he is looking forward to going home where his daughter is less active and watches tv.  Sofie wears him out.

The night terrors are intermittent.  I am trying different techniques but their frequency does seem to depend partially on how tired she is.  Hopefully they will pass.  Last night I got 6 consecutive hours of sleep before she woke up (unbelievable... it has been 7 months since that happened!), and I didn't know what to do with myself at 4 am when she woke up and cried.  I thought about doing yoga, reading a book, exercising, walking, going to work early... and laid there for a whole other hour fantasizing... LOL.  until I drifed off to sleep, and then my alarm went off.

I am enamored with this kid and am so thankful we got matched.  Yes, she has her funny things ("Mommy, I need medicine..." she says this a few times a day.... I have slipped her fresh vegetable juice, ginger juice, tictacs, vitamins, kefir, and fruit juice under the guise of medicine since she is so relentless in her quest...) but she is awesome and I am so glad we got her.  I believe in fate & miracles & the power of good.

I am headed to France in a couple days and don't know how THAT transition will go because my trip is longer than last time, but hopefully we will skype and everything will be ok.

Hugs to all.  Peace out.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Walking like elephants

Tonight was superb fun. Sofie and I played with the etch-a-sketch... First I did letter ID with her. Then she flexed her drawing muscles and drew mommy, daddy,the cats, kailan & friends, etc. then, I was thinking about yoga and we did table pose. That turned into pretending to be elephants, monkeys, tigers, dogs, horses, and some other animal that she keeping saying over and over that sounded like 'tin' and had rolling hand motions, jumping up and down, spinning, and lots of shouting. Even her Dad joined in the fun. We laughed until we fell over. magic! Then, Sofie made us snacks in her kitchen. She wouldn't let her Dad and me eat from the same pot, and the kettle was boiling for 20 minutes at least. It was a riot. We have the best little girl. She is a hoot and a half and is talking more every day. Also, at preschool they moved her up to the 3-4 year olds (she was a year behind to learn language) and after only 2 months she is in her age bracket. Amazing!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

I would like to take a moment and remember the people who have enabled our great country to exist.  I am thankful we live in a world that allows us to express our individualism, grow our families, and lets us be the way we are.  I have visited other countries that do not allow its citizens the freedoms we enjoy ourselves, and I am so grateful our people have sacrificed to make sure we live in the best country in the world.

My husband is an amazing guy, and he gave me an hour's break this afternoon.  I have cleaned out a bathroom drawer than I meant to blitz before Sofie came to us.  She is in there every day asking and touching things, and I am always afraid she is going to hijack the items in there & they will disappear forever.  Now, I have some blogging time.

We had an fantastic time at Sea World yesterday.  We fed the dolphins fish.  Sofie was entranced by the shows.  Her favorite was an  animal/human combo that included dancers, trapeze artists, divers, and water ballet as well as dolphins and beluga whales.  It was pretty spectacular.  I got pretty sunburned but Sofie and her Daddy don't have that problem.  The sunscreen appears to work better on them.  We also saw the Clyde and Seymour show, the Shamu show (really, really bad these days), and went to kiddie land.  We waited in line 20 minutes for a baby-coaster, but Sofie wimped-out at the end.  We ended up doing the merry-go-round instead.  Her Dad was waiting for us & watching, and Sofie's face shone like the sun when she saw him and got to wave as we went round and round.  It made my day.  She almost has dimples when she has real, joyful smiles.  I wish I could see some of those smiles every day.

Oh, and we forgot our camera & left our phones in the car so there is no photographic evidence.  I guess we are living in the moment these days.

We had a really good car trip back and forth.  Sofie was pretty subdued, sang, played and was generally happy.  There have been some people providing feedback to me lately, flabbergasted that we didn't invest in outfitting our mom-mobile with the latest in DVD/TV technology, but I really don't want to be that person or that family.  Sofie has been making up some pretty great songs lately & she has been singing other songs she is learning.  Maybe it would be needed for a 21 hour drive back and forth to Illinois, but I just don't see it.

Today we will have strawberry shortcake (thanks for the idea Mom), and fajitas made on the grill.  It should be super.  Let's remember the people we have lost in our life & think good thoughts of them.

Oh, and it has been awhile since I shared some pictures, so here are some recent ones...

Wanting to be in the middle of everything as usual!

Playing house

Eating her first Birthday Cake!

Happy on a Horse!

Riding a horse with friends

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Peaceful night!

For the first time in 3 weeks, Sofie slept through the night! It's a beautiful day.

We are headed to Sea world for fun! Hopefully the dolphins will be good for our girl.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Beautiful girl

My beautiful girl got another bang trim today and looks fabulous. I can't believe how long her hair has gotten. She is a stunner!

She and daddy are singing the "abc's" in the bathroom and my heart is smiling.

She didn't have full blown night terrors last night but woke up whimpering/kicking about 30 times. Eventually she fell into a sound sleep (or I did from pure exhaustion).

I have such respect for parents everywhere. I didn't know it was so hard, and I am privileged to experience it first hand.

We got our 6 month update from the social worker, and it was an amazing report. We are keeping her. :)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Night time

Night terrors continue to be a problem. Our little girl slept from 9:45-4:30 am last night and then came to our room screaming. She was upset and worked up for an hour. Just when she calmed down again she yanked my hair as hard as she could and started screaming again. We couldn't go near her because she was hitting/kicking. It was a full out fit on the floor. Eventually, she was exhausted and came to my arms. She fell asleep around 6:30 again and slept another hour. When she awoke, she was cheerful and happy. I hope her brain can work through whatever is going on in there. I really hope she wasn't abused at nighttime like the doctor thinks. Poor baby. I wish I knew what was going on in her head.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Lazy Saturday

It is a gorgeous day here, and we took advantage of it.  Once Dad woke up, we got dressed and set out on the road.  There is an amazing bike path we don't partake enough of most days, and we headed out on a Saturday adventure.  A slight breeze blew in the air, and it was only like 85 degrees and sunny when we set out.  When we got away from the road, Sofie set out to steer us in the right direction.  She runs with her stroller in a haphazard forward direction (mostly sideways), and she tends to run us off the path quite a bit, but she is exuberantly happy so we are too.  We saw birds, butterflies, jumping fish, dogs, cats, etc.

Eventually we got to the best park in the city (the heights park), and we did a lot of swinging, running, chasing, climbing, hanging, and jumping.  At one point, Sofie thought there was a question about whose mom I was, so she made it clear to the other kids who I belonged to... LOL.  She is a fierce protector.

Once she was sufficiently worn out, we hit White Oak and found a place for a bite we have been meaning to try.  The service was so/so but we were sitting outside and relaxing so I can't complain.  Sofie helped us walk home and collapsed in her stroller the last half mile.  She is still snoozing in her stroller downstairs and I am freshly showered.  The Champion's League final is on downstairs.  All is good with the world.

A nice lazy Saturday like it used to be but better.  Love it.

Friday, May 18, 2012

6 month checkup

It has been a long while since I posted anything, and they have changed the interface for blogging since then.  Good grief!  It has only been 3 months...

But they have been amazing 3 months.  Sofie has learned to say s, f, p, b, r, sh, and more sounds.  She is a big singer.  She still is so graceful and dances with a fluidity I wish that I had myself.

She is headstrong, charming, independent, and amazing.  There are times I laugh or exchange knowing looks with Dad when she does something especially precocious.  She received a singing necklace from a happy meal (I know, I know...) that she loves and she does this little head/shimmy/hip twist thing every time she hears it.  I love it.  Her face gets a funny, happy, sly look on it every time she hears the song.  I giggle to myself every time because I love it.

She has toys that are starting to live and grow with her.  She has burned herself on her tea set (HOT tea), made hotdogs and bananas, and her baby plays soccer & blows bubbles.  Hello Kitty plays prominently in her life as does Kailan.  They are both active fixtures in our imagination.

There are other times when she knows she is being naughty and can't quite figure out how to get out of her temper tantrum... and I give her an out by giving her a big hug and a kiss.

We also have the special times where she is possessed by some unknown spirit and is on a rampage with unknown origins.  It could be related to communication.  It could be related to having a 3 year old.  We still don't quite know how to handle those situations effectively, but they are few and far between.

The time is rushing by so quickly.  We had our 6 month checkup with the social worker yesterday, and it boggles the mind that I have been back to work for so long.  For those of you who don't know, I started a new job and it is pretty intense.  It also involves traveling ... although my manager said it absolutely wouldn't... and it is the way it is.  I took my first trip (4.5 days) a couple weeks ago to the UK, and we have still been adjustment since then.  We had some slippage on the security front but she is finally recovering.  We have entered the world of night terrors since I came home and those are pretty scary.  We are trying to manage it mostly through scheduling and extra love, but wow.  I didn't expect that.

We are so lucky to have our darling girl in our life. I know the transition was a tough one - especially since it felt like we took her away unexpectedly from her life (her complete lack of being prepared for this change).  It wasn't the way I would choose to do again, but all we can do is love one another and grow forward, together.  I sent another update to her foster family in China who loved her all those years today because I figured they would be missing her on her birthday.  All we need is love.

Ok.  Kiddo is home. Gotta go.  Will try to update more often.  Lots of love & hugs.

Monday, February 20, 2012

3 month anniversary

On the eve of our 3 month anniversary, Sofie had her cleft palate repair surgery. They said she would bounce back quickly but it has been slow.

The poor baby thinks she had surgery on her arms and is afraid to move them. She has regressed with her sense of security.

I really feel for her at the moment.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cleft Palate repair

We met with the Shriners today.  It was overwhelming in a way.  We met her case manager, the ENT, the surgeon, a speech pathologist, a geneticist, their residents (just like "Grey's Anatomy"), and communication specialist that helps prepare the child for surgery.  

Sofie was prodded and poked (no shots).  She opened her mouth wide for the many flashlights stuck into it.  She sang, she spoke, she danced, she laughed, she played, and she cried only a little.  I was very proud at how well behaved she was considering we were there for about 4 hours.  She is a great little girl.

The good news is that the speech pathologist thought she was making good progress with her sounds and explained why her "b's, d's, f's, k's, g's, p's, t's, etc." weren't coming out.  She also helped prioritize Sofie's surgery to ASAP so that she doesn't start any other bad habits.  Last, she will work with the Early Childhood Intervention team on the speech therapy strategy.  Very cool.   

The bad news is that her cleft palate is way worse than I thought it was.  I saw only the small hole in her mouth, and I thought she wouldn't require that much work.  It turns out that the muscles in the back of her mouth are formed incorrectly, and although the hole is small in her mouth, since the muscles are formed the way they are, it is like the entire roof of her mouth is missing.  The surgery plan is to reconfigure all the muscles in her mouth to be structured properly.  Then, if everything goes well, the next surgery will be when she is 8-9 and that will fill in the hole in her mouth.  Then, when she is 16, we will look at fixing the cosmetic stuff on her face (droopy nose).  Apparently, if they go in and try to fix the nose now, it will likely screw up the development of her nose on her face in the future.  So we have to wait.

I am heart broken that she might have to be subjected to the taunts and teasing about how her face looks. I was teased a lot when I was in elementary school & junior high about a mole above my lip.  As I have gotten older, it faded, but at the time, it definitely affected my self esteem.  It was hard.  She is a beautiful little girl, and I don't want her to be broken by this experience.  Children can be cruel.

Anyway, I am feeling confident about the medical team.  I am extremely grateful that the Shriners accepted our case.  I am hoping we will have completed the surgery by mid March.  Since we are local, the Shriners are going to call us if there is a last minute cancellation due to illness so we could get it done in February.  

After the surgery, Sofie's arms will be splinted for at least 2 weeks so she can't put her hands in her mouth.  I am not looking forward to that.  It will be an extremely frustrating time for awhile for sure.

That's our news for the day.  We meeting with the Early Childhood Intervention team next week to start speech therapy.  Hopefully that will go well too. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

2 month mark

Her Dad pointed out to me the other night that this weeks marks is the 2 month anniversary of getting Sofie.  Her Dad was talking about it on the 17th in the context of ... "We had no idea what was in store for us when we got on the plane to China"...  He has been reminiscing about what life used to be like...
...I used to be able to golf whenever I wanted to...
   ... I used to be able to go out to dinner when/where I wanted to...
      ... We used to be able to go to non-kid friendly places...
        ...  I used to be able to sleep in until I wanted to...
           ... I used to be able to sleep 7-8 hours in a row... LOL.

I do miss going out for Tex Mex at my favorite restaurant (not really kid friendly), but Sofie is everything I expected plus more (most of the time, except for when she is naughty and having day-long temper tantrums - these are epic events, and no one can prepare for them mentally ahead of time. Wow.).

I also miss going on dates with Dad. We have only been out once in 2 months due to sickness, and we need to prioritize this more.  Babysitters are welcome to contact us any time with interest.  *hint hint hint*

I want to commemorate the 2 month anniversary of our family day on the 21st by looking at it from a high level on where we are  in such a short period of time.  Sure, 2 months sounds short to the average layman, but 2 months seems like it has been an eternity.

  • We got Sofie!  This was HUGE!  It was 2.5 years of adoption process coming to fruition.
  • We bonded with Sofie.  The social worker did her first evaluation of us last week, and she was really pleased with Sofie's progress.  She called Sofie "a doll", "a good girl", "very sweet", and "obviously happy".  This is HUGE.  I am relieved that Sofie has bonded with both of us. She is working on becoming a Daddy's girl really quickly.
  • She bonded with the cats (major win because she was TERRIFIED of them).
  • She is thriving & growing!  She has grown an INCH in 2 months.
  • She occasionally sleeps through the night & sleeps in her own bed every night!  (Very exciting when sleeping through the night happens!  She did it 2 nights in a row this week!!!)
  • We have started her immunizations (there are lots).  
  • We are meeting with her cleft palate team next week to put in a plan of action for her.
  • We made an appointment with the Early Childhood Intervention team to get her started on speech therapy in February.  This will be great because she will start learning to use consonants.  
  • She is a natural mimic in both physical & speech aspects.  It is good we are keeping her active outside, and she is constantly learning new things (like blowing bubbles & playing a recorder).  She can say lots of English words.  She also is a confident bull-shitter ("Yes Mama, I understand" nods when she is asked if she understands).  I hoped she would be fluent by 2 months, but that was unrealistic.  It takes a normal baby 15-18 months to start talking.  Sofie is doing pretty well.
  • She has met some of her extended family & bonded with them very quickly.  She remembers them & talks about them all the time.  There is a plan for her to meet almost everyone which is also significant since we are talking about 2 continents.
  • Oh, and we discovered she likes a lot of things that Dad and I like such as music, singing, dancing, walking, soccer & the beach.  We have rediscovered old loves like bubbles, running (ok, chasing after her, but it is running after all), playing tag, the zoo, tickling, science museums, and kites.  I also get to help her play princess dress-up (love, love, love) AND play with baby dolls.  It is also an excuse to sing weird, random songs at the top of my lungs - girl scout songs if you must know - and pretend to be a dog or a cat... or a tickle monster and be the coolest mom in the world.
So, on the eve of our 2-month anniversary, I say... We have come a long way, Baby!